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Pinterest and Instagram Drive Gains for Online Sellers

A traditional indicator of potential ecommerce success, traffic from search engines, social media, and advertising campaigns, experienced a dip from 2013 to 2014. Yet less traffic hasn’t resulted in lower sales, as these channels have been driving more revenue to sellers despite the decreased traffic volume.

The latest Ecommerce Quarterly from Monetate found year over year drops in raw traffic numbers from search, down 10 percent, social networks, down 39 percent, and advertising, down 41 percent. But the report finds revenue from search and social traffic rising from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014.

These numbers indicate a more focused buying behavior, one that Monetate suggests people are shopping online in a manner similar to how they shop offline. They look for what they want, they find it, and they buy it.

In looking for such purchases, the visual aspect of the internet has taken more precedence. Monetate found that brands positioned on image-rich sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Polyvore, and Facebook “are experiencing increases in three key KPIs: AOV (average order value), revenue per session, and revenue, while average page views are either flat or declining.”

The behavior bodes well for brands who have established themselves on these sites, with links to click-through their images and be able to make a purchase. People doing so appear to be more likely arriving at the destination site with the intent to buy.

In the report, Apu Gupta, CEO for marketing firm Curalate offered some suggestions for making the best use of visual sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Among his suggestions:

  • Add Pin It button to product images;
  • Repurpose expired product links to leverage traffic;
  • Add fan images to your retail website.

Gupta said 40 percent of the top 100 brands in the Internet Retailer 500 don’t have Pinterest’s “Pin It” buttons on their site’s product images. Adding those buttons makes the content shareable, which will be important as Curalate’s research found almost 80 percent of brand engagements on Pinterest happen organically.

Some diligent link management needs to happen too, as a popular Pin may have a long life as it’s shared, which may go beyond the original link’s intended lifespan.

Monetate said Pinterest has a 56 percent bounce rate as people find Pins that no longer go where the visitor thinks they are going. Redirecting such links to similar items, or to offers to email the visitor when the desired item comes back in stock, can help with this.

Instagram poses a different challenge for sellers who are finding their brands are being shared on that site. Gupta suggested incorporating those fan images back onto the seller’s website. “Fans love to feel loved,” he wrote. “In turn, those same fans will celebrate your brand and advocate for your products.”

David A Utter on LinkedinDavid A Utter on Twitter
David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.